Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration

Twenty-one communication studies and journalism students are in Washington, D.C., in January 2013 as part of the Meadows School of the Arts’ Hilltop on the Hill program. In addition to reporting on Inaugural events, the students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies; Daniel Schill, assistant professor of communication studies, and Carolyn Barta, journalism professor. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions and the G8 Economic Summit.

Supporting the troops in D.C. and at SMU

An update from Santiago, a communications major and member of U.S. Military Veterans of SMU: Santiago at the Vietnam Memorial Walking through the Vietnam War Memorial was a humbling experience. Standing there looking at those names, I thought about the issues all troops faced during this time in history. Forced to leave loved ones, being drafted and trained, experiencing war, the loss of life or serious injuries, feeling remorseful for their actions in war, unknowingly dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, not being welcomed back into their country, minorities facing racisms and prejudices, sexism, homophobia, so on and so forth. This moment weighed heavily on my heart. It was a very sobering moment. Then I thought about how wonderful [...]

2013-01-29T16:17:29+00:00 January 29th, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

Thank you to our representatives in Washington

An update from Kathryn, a sophomore communication studies and public policy major: Before knowing who our president was going to be for the next four years, I began hassling my local congressman, Kevin Brady of Montgomery County, Texas, for tickets to attend the inauguration. The first phone call I made to his 8th Congressional District office was one of the more intimidating things I have done. Clearly his staff is accomplished and intelligent, and the thought of how easily they could reject me was frightening. They took my name and we exchanged a few emails; then I was placed on the list as a potential for a ticket. Coming from a very rural part of Texas, I felt a little more [...]

2013-01-29T16:25:18+00:00 January 29th, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

America’s remarkable tapestry

An update from Antonea, a junior majoring in communication studies and history: On the eve of the Inauguration, we had the opportunity to see several of the monuments on the National Mall. While extraordinarily relevant to what we would experience in just hours at the Inauguration, what was most prevalent was the underlying theme of civil religion. Unfortunately before this night, I had not been exposed to this idea until Dr. Schill explained the culmination of ideas, values and rituals that coalesced into what has been termed civil religion, or the expressions made by citizens of patriotism. What struck me even more were the depth, sincerity, and grandeur that each monument carried - and while apart they told magnificent stories [...]

2013-01-23T21:54:11+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

Experiencing history

An update from Savannah, a junior majoring in communications and history: Savannah and Mary-Ashley at the Capitol When I decided to join this inaugural trip, I did so to be a “part of history.” However, who knows what that means? Was I a part of the 1 million gathered to watch as the president was sworn in for a second time? Yes. But, what does it communicate? That I was a good citizen who cared about the democratic process, or was I a kid who loves losing feeling in her extremities? Well, as a delicate Southern girl who can’t handle anything below 70 degrees, I can say with assurance that it wasn’t the latter. Instead, I stood in [...]

2013-01-23T22:02:26+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

Inspired by alumni in D.C.

An update from Caroline, a senior communication studies major: I’ve been bit. Since we landed on Saturday afternoon, my condition has worsened and the virus has consumed my whole being. This bug is highly contagious. It lives in the energy of the city, thrives off the ambitions and experiences of its residents and visitors, and continues to spread until you are convinced this is the place you need to be. Before I came on this adventure, I had some inkling that living in D.C. after graduation was possibly something I wanted to do, but I passed off the feeling as a whimsical dream that would probably never come to fruition. However, as soon as I landed I quickly remembered why [...]

2013-01-23T22:03:26+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

A sense of legacy

An update from Mary-Ashley, a junior communication studies major: Savannah and Mary-Ashley at the National Cathedral Over the course of this Hilltop on the Hill trip to our nation’s capital for the presidential inauguration, I have been struck by the reality of my place in the grand scheme of history. Upon entering the National Cathedral and remembering the past presidents who walked up the same aisle as I did, I gained a measure of perspective about how important humans are capable of being. Yet, no matter how significant they were and continue to be, their lives couldn’t last forever. No matter what great feats these men accomplished, they only existed on this Earth for a short time, yet [...]

2013-01-23T22:04:16+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

So you want to work in Washington?

An update from Morgan, a sophomore business and communication studies major, and Spanish minor: Since we stepped off the metro from Washington Reagan airport, the Hilltop on the Hill program has been a nonstop whirlwind of meetings with journalists, reporters, lobbyists, and even congressmen. Despite the different career paths of these professionals, one underlying theme remained the same: Washington, D.C., is run by people under 30. SMU alumni and students in D.C. For SMU students looking to move to D.C. upon graduation, this is an exciting fact. SMU prepares students exceptionally well for life in D.C., making the transition from the Hilltop to the Hill easier than one may think. This connection is due in part to the [...]

2013-01-29T16:57:01+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

The power of communication

An update from Andrew, a communication studies major: WOW! What a trip. We have been busy busy busy since we landed at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. We have spoken to congressmen, lobbyists, staffers, and many SMU alums. As a communications major I was blown away by how talented the people we talked to were at communicating their message. George Rogers, Pete Sessions, and Jack Fields were great speakers who kept our attention throughout our time with them. Above all the one thing I noticed most about these talented communicators was their eye contact. George Rogers is the former chief of staff for Congressman John Boehner, the House speaker, and now is a lobbyist as of a month ago. [...]

2013-01-23T23:07:40+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

In with the Yo-Pro’s

An update from Madison, a junior communication studies major: Upon arrival in Washington, D.C, I knew that the city was a different animal. The air was crisp, and you could smell ambition and perseverance on each 20-something who passed you by without even a glance at their perfect wardrobe. People know what they want and aren’t afraid to go get it. In Dallas, you almost immediately get sucked into the bubble and create a routine consisting of work, play, rest and repeat. Dallasites get comfortable and rarely veer off to experience something different, with the exception of trying a new restaurant for brunch. The politicos and young professionals of Washington, D.C., do live in the same kind of bubble, but [...]

2013-01-23T21:55:34+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|

A bit of Tennessee in D.C.

An update from Crawford, a senior communication studies and economics major: In addition to the Inauguration, D.C. hosts many other festivities and celebrations. However, due to the current economic situation, there were fewer balls and galas this year than there have been in the last 60 years. The cutback was meant to reduce government spending and the amount of security and law enforcement personnel needed. Luckily I was able to attend two of these balls. After spending the morning at the Inaugural ceremony, I attended my home state ball, the Tennessee State Society Ball, at the Sphinx Club on Monday night. Despite not knowing anyone upon my arrival, I quickly bonded with my fellow statesmen. Meeting and talking with them, [...]

2013-01-23T21:28:30+00:00 January 23rd, 2013|Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration|
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